Nigeria’s government on Friday lauded the fast pace of ongoing construction of a major road linking the northern and southern parts of the country by a Chinese firm despite challenges that plagued the project at an earlier stage.
Minister of State for Works and Housing Mu’azu Sambo, who led a delegation of government officials and foreign delegates from sister African countries on a tour of the project, said the construction of the Abuja-Keffi expressway and dualization of Keffi-Akwanga-Lafia-Makurdi road in central Nigeria would go a long way to solve some of the socio-economic problems of Nigerians.
“Infrastructure is the bedrock of socio-economic development in any country. That is what this particular project exemplifies,” Sambo told reporters.
The project, handled by the China Harbor Engineering Company (CHEC), is divided into four sections, covering a total of 220 kilometers.
With a contractual construction period of 36 months, 15 percent of the project funds are raised by the Nigerian government, and 85 percent are provided by the Export-Import Bank of China.
Sambo said that when completed, the road project will particularly improve the economic activities of the people, as well as solve security and traffic challenges bedeviling that part of the country.
The project was launched on April 1, 2019, but construction was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, compensation of inhabitants affected by the project, and prolonged rainfall in Nigeria, CHEC said.
Chen Ze, the chairman of CHEC Nigeria Limited, told Xinhua that the completion rate of the overall project has so far reached 70 percent, noting the Nigerian government had already granted a 12-month extension.
“The road used to be a very narrow one, creating difficult situations like traffic for the people. But now, we have been able to ease transportation,” Chen said.
Not only does the project improves the transportation circumstances in Nigeria, but also assembles a large international interconnection road network among West Africa, Central Africa, and North Africa, substantially enhancing the road conditions within the region, said Chen.
Over 2,000 direct jobs have also been created in the ongoing construction, he added.